The Sabres prospects were in action at the Harborcenter over the weekend, providing Buffalo’s hockey fans with a look at what the future may hold for their favourite NHL squad. After a 2-0 start with wins over New Jersey and Boston on Friday and Saturday respectively, the young Sabres dropped their Prospects Challenge finale game against Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon. Despite conceding the tournament to Pittsburgh in Monday’s loss (both teams finished 2-1, Pittsburgh won based on head-to-head play), Buffalo’s prospects gave Sabres fans plenty to cheer about.
Buffalo’s high-profile older prospects were predominantly head and shoulders above their counterparts. Strong performances came from a crop of forwards with two or more goals, including Victor Olofsson, Rasmus Asplund, Matej Pekar and Dylan Cozens. Solid blue line play from Will Borgen, Henri Jokiharju and others also contributed to the Sabres prospects’ success over the weekend.
Photo credit: nhl.com
BUF 6, NJD 4 (Sept 6, 2019):
Buffalo’s offense was buzzing under the Friday night lights at the Harborcenter, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the game’s first 35 minutes. After even-strength contributions from Kyle Olson (2017 4thrd. to Anaheim, unsigned), Victor Olofsson (2014 7th), Andrew Oglevie (undrafted), Arttu Ruotsalainen (undrafted), Dylan Cozens (2019 1st) and Will Borgen (2015 4th), the Jack Hughes-led Devils retaliated to score four goals in the game’s second half to make the game appear closer than it actually was. Jonas Johansson (2014 3rd) made 33 saves in the Buffalo net, giving up two even strength goals and two power play markers, including one from the 2019 1st overall pick Jack Hughes to make it 6-1 in the second period. 2018 4th rounder Matej Pekar continued to endear himself to the local fans with his chippy play and a third period fight against Micharl Vukojevic of the Devils. Pekar gained notoriety amongst fans when he ruffled the feathers of Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt in the 2018 rookie camp.
Photo credit: Buffalo News
BUF 4, BOS 3 (Sept 7, 2019):
After a strong first game performance, the Sabres looked to keep rolling against the Bruins’ prospects Saturday. The Sabres took the lead early on a goal from Rasmus Asplund (2016 2nd) before Boston tied it up about halfway through the second period. The Sabres responded shortly after by scoring three goals in a four-minute span with contributions from Victor Olofsson and two goals by Matej Pekar to put Buffalo ahead 4-1 through two periods. It was an uneasy third period as the Boston scored two power play markers to narrow the margin to 4-3, but Buffalo held on to win it in front of another rambunctious Harborcenter crowd. Jonas Johansson made 35 saves on 38 shots in the win, and Pekar continued his tenacious play, getting under the skin of the Bruins players all night long. When asked by WGR550’s Paul Hamilton after the game how he consistently irritates his opponents, Pekar attributed it to his good looks. This kid is really shaping up to be a fan favourite in Buffalo.
Photo credit: nhl.com
PIT 6, BUF 4 (Sept 9, 2019):
With their eyes set on a perfect Prospects Challenge, the Sabres prospects hit the ice Monday afternoon for a duel with the Penguins. After a scoreless first, the Sabres were flat as can be at the start of the second period, allowing four goals before the halfway mark of the middle frame. Late goals from Brett Murray (2016 4th) and Dylan Cozens put the Sabres within two goals going into the third period. Buffalo leveled the score with two goals from Rasmus Asplund in the frame’s first four minutes, but the Penguins answered quickly to make it 5-4 and eventually iced the game with an empty netter in the game’s final minute to win the game and the Prospects Challenge. Undrafted invitee Matthew Welsh made 24 stops on 29 Penguins shots, with the 30th Pens shot of the game going into the empty net.